Showing posts with label how to treat arthritis pain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label how to treat arthritis pain. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Stiff, Achy Joints? Soothe the Pain and Increase Your Mobility

Nearly every adult eventually reaches the point where they are going to experience some morning stiffness, or other aches and pains, especially in their joints.  It may start as an occasional sensation and eventually slip into chronic pain.  Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the pain and increase your mobility, so you can continue to lead a healthy, active livestyle.

Why Do Joints Get Stiff?

It is very normal to experience some pain and stiffness as you age, because your cartilage, a spongy material at the end of your bones, gradually begins to dry out and get stiff.   In addition, our bodies make less of a substance called synovial fluid, which is the lubricant which keeps our joints moving smoothly.  As a result, it is perfectly natural for us not to be able to move in the same way we did when we were in our teens.

Although you cannot turn back time, you can slow down the aging of your joints by continuing to move as much as possible.  The synovial fluid you have needs you to keep moving as much as you can in order to keep your joints lubricated.  That is why you are likely to feel particularly stiff in the morning, because you were probably moving very little while you slept.

You may also experience joint pain when the weather and barometric pressure in the air changes. It can feel especially severe just before a storm.

Health Conditions Which Cause Joint Problems

In additional to the natural stiffness we may experience from simple aging, we may also develop serious health problems which can make the pain and inflammation worse.  Examples are:

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Osteoarthritis (OA)
- This occurs when the cartilage begins to wear away, either because of aging or an injury to the joint.  Without the cartilage, the bones rub together and can cause tiny pieces of the bones to break off.  This can make the joint swell, as well as be stiff or painful.  Personally, I have found that it helps my knees when I wear a knee brace if I am going to be doing much walking.  Pictured here is one that I particularly like.  However, I have included a link to the entire Amazon page (Ad) for these braces, because they come in a wide variety of colors, style, brands and prices.  Check with your doctor to make sure these would be appropriate for your condition.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) - This is an autoimmune disease which can cause your body to attack the lining (or synovium) of your joints.  It can show up anywhere in the body, but most often in the wrist or finger joints.  You may have seen people with oddly bent fingers, which are a common result of this disease.  It may cause constant pain, or only flare up occasionally.

Ankylosing spondylitis - This can affect your immune system, and cause pain in the spine, hips, hands or feet.

Gout - A build-up of uric acid in your body can result in intense pain, usually in your big toe.

Infectious arthritis - Sometimes called septic arthritis, this form of arthritis can start with an infection which spreads to a large joint, such as your hip.

Psoriatic Arthritis - This is a combination of the skin condition, psoriasis, and joint inflammation. In addition to stiff or throbbing joints in your hands, fingers, feet, knees and other joints, you may also have swollen fingers and severely pitted fingernails.  You might have it on one side of your body, or on both. 

Fibromyalgia - This health condition does not damage your joints the way arthritis does, but it can cause joint and muscle pain, as well as other problems.  It often starts after an illness, surgery or a period of severe stress, and causes people to feel pain more intensely.

Bursitis - This is an injury to the bursae, or fluid-filled sacs that are cushions between your bones.  Overuse or damage to the joint can cause pain in the bursae.

Tendinitis - This is when the tendons that attach muscles to your bones are injured from overuse, and can cause intense pain.

How to Relieve Pain in Your Joints

Regardless of the cause of your stiff, achy joints, there are treatments which can soothe the joints and ease your pain.  You will, of course, want to get a diagnosis from your physician.  You need to know exactly which condition is causing your pain, so it can be treated appropriately. Your physician will also put you on a treatment plan.  However, here are some common treatments which you can expect to receive.

The link to Arthritis Cure
Treating Osteoarthritis - With your doctor's permission, you may want to try over-the-counter pain medications.  In addition, your doctor may try some injections to help reduce the inflammation.  Physical therapy and weight loss can be useful, too.

You may also want to read the very helpful book, "The Arthritis Cure: The Medical Miracle That Can Halt, Reverse, and May Even Cure Osteoarthritis."  (Ad) It is a helpful guide to overcoming this common disease. 

Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis - Treatment for this may begin with special medications from your doctor which can slow or stop the disease from continuing to damage the joints.  These medications are called DMARDs, which stands for Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs.  These drugs will attempt to reduce the inflammation in your body.  You can help the process by taking care of yourself. It is important that you eat healthy foods, get adequate rest, and continue to move as much as you can.

Treating Psoriatic Arthritis - These treatments will be similar to those for Rheumatoid Arthritis, and it may be advisable to be treated by a specialist, because not all doctors are accustomed to treating psoriatic arthritis.  You could receive medications which may be administered by mouth, injections or infusions.  The goal is to reduce the swelling and inflammation in your joints.

Treating Fibromyalgia - Because this disease is poorly understood, there is no cure.  Over-the-counter pain medications may help with the pain, but your doctor may try other medications, depending on your range of symptoms.  Relaxation techniques or gentle stretching exercises such as yoga or tai chi may also be useful. 

Home Treatments for Joint Pain

After seeing your physician, and finding out the exact cause of your arthritis or joint pain, you may also want to begin a personal regimen to improve your health and reduce your joint pain.  Here are some of the things you may want to try:

Exercise and Physical Therapy - In most cases, moving the joints will reduce the stiffness in your joints.  It will also help keep your bones strong, improve your balance and help you control your weight.  However, if you are not sure what exercises will be best for your particular type of joint pain, start by having a few sessions with a physical therapist. They can help you work the joint correctly.

Heat Therapy - This can be as simple as taking a hot shower or bath in the morning. The hot water will get blood flowing to your joints, and loosen them.  You can also try using a hot tub, purchasing a moist heating pad, (Ad) or warming a damp washcloth in the microwave for one minute and, when it is cool enough to handle, wrap it in a towel and cover the sore joint for 15 to 20 minutes.

Cold Therapy - You may want to alternate your heat therapy with cold therapy.  Purchase a cold pack (Ad) or even use a bag of frozen vegetables.  Wrap it in a towel to protect your skin, and don't leave it on for more than 20 minutes.  This does the opposite of the heat therapy.  It will slow the blood flow to the area and reduce the swelling.  

Talk to a Nutritionist - Some types of arthritis may benefit from weight loss, because you will be putting less stress and weight on the joint.  Other types of joint pain, such as gout, may be affected specifically what you eat, because certain foods will elevate your uric acid.  Once you are given dietary instructions for treating your joint pain, it will be up to you to make sure you follow it.

Try Alternative Therapies - Talk to your physician about seeing some alternative medical professionals such as an acupuncturist or a chiropractor.  They may be able to help reduce the inflammation in your joints.

When to See Your Doctor or Go to the Emergency Room

Most of the conditions mentioned above are chronic conditions which tend to develop slowly and are treated over a long period of time.  However, there may be urgent situations which require you to go to the emergency room or see a doctor immediately. Contact your doctor if:

You are in extreme pain;

Your pain is the result of an injury;

The joint looks deformed;

You cannot use your joint or it becomes especially hard to move;

The skin is red or warm to the touch;

The affected area of the body suddenly becomes swollen;

You are in severe discomfort for more than three days, and nothing you do seems to help.

Remember, the first place to start is with your personal physician.  You need to know the cause of your pain before it can be properly and effectively treated.  Different types of joint pain require different medications and treatment plans. Once you have a diagnosis, then you should work with your doctor to find ways to reduce your pain and inflammation.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How to Cope with Arthritis Pain

It seems that everyone I know in the Baby Boomer age group is dealing with sore knees, painful hands, irritated shoulders or other stiff joints.  Although arthritis may be a common part of the aging process, there is no reason to allow it to define who you are or to let it completely restrict your activities.  With a few modifications, most people can continue to enjoy everything they like to do.

Of course, if you suffer from arthritis and you are feeling stiff and sore, you may not feel like doing much of anything.  This is a poor decision.  Instead, if you want to continue to be active and busy, you need to learn how to cope with arthritis.

How to Cope with Arthritis Pain

While most people with arthritis may experience pain, stiffness and discomfort, there are several things they can do to ease that pain.

* Use the medications your doctor prescribes or suggests.  Your physician may recommend an over-the-counter medication such as a low dose of Tylenol or Aleve.  In more extreme cases, you may need to take a prescription medication.  You may have to try several different medications before you find the one that works best for you.  Don't give up until you find something that eases your discomfort so you can remain active.

Experiment with supplements that help some people with arthritis pain.  Among the supplements you may want to try, with your doctor's approval, are glucosamine combined with chondroitin or MSM.  Other people have been helped by taking fish oil, faxseed oil, and/or avocado/soybean oil.  Make sure your doctor knows what you are taking, so nothing you take conflicts with what they prescribe. With your physician's approval, however, you may find something that eases your stiffness.

Stay as active as possible.  You will become more flexible and have less pain if you participate in low-impact exercises such as yoga, walking, Tao Chi and water exercises.  Start gradually so you do not do too much too soon.  Make sure you do something for exercise every day.  It is also a good idea to break your exercise up into small pieces.  Strive to get a total of at least 40 minutes of exercise a day, but it can be broken into two or three sessions that are 15 to 20 minutes long.

Lose weight.  Each time you lose one pound, you will take four pounds of pressure off your hips, knees and ankles.  This will also help ease your pain.

When pain flares up, take time to rest your joints.  Alternating activity with relaxation is the ideal way to help your joints.  However, you do not want to remain inactive for too many days unless you are recovering from surgery or your doctor advises you to rest for a lengthy period of time. Otherwise, resume your activities as soon as possible.

Alternate heat and cold when your joints are inflamed.  In addition to taking medication and resting your joints, you may also want to use heating pads or cold packs on your painful joints.  It may also help to take a warm bath.

At times, you may want to apply a topical painkiller.  Many people have found temporary relief when they have used creams containing capsaicin on a sore, inflamed joint.

Practice relaxation techniques.  Your state-of-mind can have a tremendous effect on your level of pain.  Practice yoga, deep breathing, meditation, aromatherapy, guided imagery, hypnosis or other relaxation techniques to help you learn to be less sensitive to pain.

Consider natural treatments such as massage, acupuncture or acupressure. These alternative treatments may help you relax and reduce the pain you are experiencing.

*   See a chiropractor or osteopath if you think your arthritis pain has caused your body to get out of alignment.  Their adjustments can help you feel more comfortable and increase your range of motion.

Learn to listen to your body.  You need to recognize the signs of fatigue and be able to identify when you might be putting too much stress on a joint.  This will help you know when you should back off and modify your activity.  For example, if walking on land is too painful at first, you might want to try walking in a swimming pool.  Don't overdo it, though!

Modify your activities, as needed.  Finally, you may have to make some small changes to your lifestyle in order to accommodate your arthritis, especially if it is severe.  Depending on where you feel the most pain, you may need to do things such as purchase an electric jar opener, sit on a tall kitchen stool when cooking for any length of time, have your door knobs replaced by levers, or ask for other assistance devices.  You may benefit from a stair lift to help you get up to a second floor bedroom or a comfy chair lift that helps you get back on your feet after sitting.  Don't be embarrassed to ask for help when you need it!

You can also order products online that will help you adapt to your arthritis.  Use this Amazon link to see some of the different products that are available, whether you order them from Amazon or not.  Amazon has everything from special gloves, handy grips, topical medications and much more.  You may discover the perfect solution to a problem that has caused you to restrict your activities.

You can find more information about how to cope with your arthritis from the Arthritis Foundation at arthritis.org.

If you are looking for more health and retirement information, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles of use to Baby Boomers.

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